Why you need a really good air assist on your laser

Metal, Wood, ... the heavy stuff can be found here
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Downunder35m
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Why you need a really good air assist on your laser

Post by Downunder35m »

Most people these days seem to start with tiny desktop engravers.
They used blue laser diodes capable of around 3-5W.
And for their intended purpose that is sufficient...

Then comes the day when you want to upgrade or when you have to because the laser module failed.
Replacing the module with a higher power one is easy enough.
But then the trouble can start....

Speed is one problem when switching from, let's say a Chinese "15W" module to an Endurance 10W model for example.
And there is good reason good companies always have these models in a set available that contains some sort of air nozzle, some even include a matching compressor.
These 8 bit controllers struggle to process the required data fast enough, but that you might be able to accept.
What you can't is doing a cutting job and literally burning through the material.
Without a focussed and good pressure air assist wood and other materials tend to catch fire.
A bad air assist makes it worse as it fuels the flames and thin details can burn away.

There is two types of air assist common in the hobby area.
1. The classic side pipe with a more or less fine and pointy nozzle.
2. The over the lens systems as you might know from CO2 lasers or other high power systems.

As said, don't really like the first type.
-No matter what you do, the air can never go DIRECTLY INTO the cut, at least not for all cutting directions.
The major banefit for most users is that it is easy, quick to adjust and up to a point still does a good job.

The over the lens variety though works like providing an air cover around the laser beam.
With a smooth outlet this air is rather powerful and well, goes straight INOT the cut.
What some state as a drawback, I see as a benefit - The beam is covered from the lens almost to the workpiece.
Reduces visibility of the actual cutting spot but also reduces the glare and stray light be a huge degree.
Best though: There really isn't a chance to get smoke or such onto your lens....

Speaking of the smoke....
You might have noticed that the stuff goes everywhere if you don't have a good exhaust system.
Every thought about having the air sucked DOWN ? ;)
For a smaller size engraver it is possible to build a box with the engraver on top.
Let the air get sucked out of this box and most of the smoke will no longer be able to mess up your rails, mechanics and optics ;)
Exploring the works of the old inventors, mixng them up with a modern touch.
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